Sunday, March 12, 2017

Learning to listen

Joyce Sasse, Spiritual Gleanings -
Tip of the hat to one of Saskatchewan’s outstanding educators and a 7-decade Co-op leader. Harold Chapman will be receiving the Governor General’s Honours in the same year he celebrates his 100th birthday.

In the 60’s and 70’s Chapman’s leadership at the Western Co-op College (Saskatoon) made it possible for many of us to learn and practice the newly established principles of “Adult Education”. This is where a teacher starts by discerning what a student’s understanding of an issue is – then helps him/her build on their insights. Students building on their own understandings will be more positively equipped for future initiatives than if they have to follow someone else’s instructions.

I was always thankful to have been exposed to Chapman’s educational approach when it came to my own practice of ministry.

With Baptisms, for example, denominational rubrics asked for specific commitments from the families whose children were being baptised. Our Church Council asked themselves what they were doing for these families. One decision was for the Council to send birthday cards. A child who received a letter in the mail, they decided, was reminded the church cared about them.

We tried to listen to and affirm the concerns of rural residents. As a result, we’ve gradually been able to identify and name the unique spiritual values of people in rural communities.

This approach also leads to deeper understandings about weddings and funerals. It’s wonderful when the “officiant” can combine denominational requirements alongside the celebratory ideas of the wedding participants.

Funerals are usually community-based events. As God has lived through the life of this one now deceased and his/her family, so we as church should reflect on that soulfulness. I’ve had many services where the deceased’s life-story has been a powerful Statement of Faith.

For the improved health of the country, could our political gurus also advocate to their colleagues the importance of learning to listen?

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